GOP governors in four blue states pledge to uphold right to seek abortion

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is one of four GOP governors of blue states who have said they will uphold abortion rights. (Steven Senne/AP)

U.S. states are free to ban or drastically reduce access to abortion after the Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, a landmark ruling that has for nearly five decades established a fundamental right to the procedure. In as many as 20 states — the vast majority of which are dominated by Republicans — bans are already in place or could be enacted within months.

Republicans also control the governor’s mansion in four blue states: Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire and Vermont. Polls indicate the four GOP governors are among the most popular executives in the country, and all have governed with a lighter touch on social issues relative to their conservative colleagues elsewhere. All four governors have said they will uphold abortion rights, though some have fought against expanding access to the procedure.

Vermont moves forward on becoming first state to guarantee the right to abortion in its constitution

Here’s the latest on abortion rights in the four states.

Larry Hogan of Maryland

Hogan is well known nationally for his criticism of former president Donald Trump, who appointed three of the Supreme Court justices that overturned Roe. He is a Catholic who personally opposes abortion but has generally avoided weighing in on the issue.

Hogan said Friday via email that his state passed laws 30 years ago to protect access to abortion. “I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of Maryland, and that is what I have always done and will continue to do as governor,” Hogan said, as calls mounted for the legislature to enshrine protections in the state constitution. The 1992 law prohibits the state from interfering with “a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy,” while also providing immunity to physicians for providing the services.

In March, Maryland’s Democratic-controlled legislature strengthened abortion rights. Lawmakers approved measures that allow more medical professionals to perform the procedure and ban most insurers from charging patients out-of-pocket costs for an abortion.

Hogan, who will leave office early next year after being term-limited, vetoed the bills but was overruled by Democratic supermajorities in Annapolis. In May, he used discretionary power to withhold $3.5 million that lawmakers had designated for training new abortion providers.

Charlie Baker of Massachusetts

Baker, a moderate Republican who supports abortion rights, denounced the Supreme Court’s decision and signed an order expanding protections for abortion providers serving out-of-state patients.

“I am deeply disappointed in today’s decision by the Supreme Court which will have major consequences for women across the country,” Baker said in a statement. His term ends in January and he has declined to seek reelection.

The order bars state officials from assisting out-of-state investigations into people who seek an abortion in Massachusetts and bans cooperation with interstate extradition requests on charges related to receiving or providing the procedure. It also protects medical professionals from retaliation in Massachusetts if they are disqualified by another state for providing abortion services.

The Bay State permits all abortions up to 24 weeks. In 2020, Baker vetoed a bill that further expanded access to abortion within state law, saying that provisions such as allowing some minors to undergo the procedure without parental consent went too far. The state legislature overrode his veto.

Chris Sununu of New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s legislature is controlled by Republicans and it does not have a law that explicitly protects abortion. But Sununu said in a Friday statement that abortion will remain legal in the state.

After a draft of the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe leaked, Sununu said he is a “pro-choice governor” that would keep New Hampshire a “pro-choice state.”

But the governor has also been criticized by reproductive health group Planned Parenthood for signing a measure that bans most abortions beyond 24 weeks of pregnancy. After the measure became law in 2021, he boasted on a podcast of doing “more on the pro-life issue, if you will, than anyone.”

Phil Scott of Vermont

Scott supports abortion rights and on Friday said in a statement that he was “deeply disappointed” by the Supreme Court’s decision and that a “woman’s right to choose is a principle we will uphold in Vermont.”

A 2019 state law that he signed codified the right to terminate a pregnancy. “That does not change with this ruling,” Scott said.

Vermont residents will soon be able to vote to enshrine abortion rights in the constitution. Proposal 5, which has already been approved by state lawmakers, will be on the ballot this November and Scott said he intends to vote for it. The constitutional amendment calls “reproductive liberty” key to the “exercise of personal autonomy.”

The words politicians use to talk about abortion have shifted away from medical significance and shaped the way we think about the procedure. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

Roe v. Wade and abortion access in America

Roe v. Wade overturned: The Supreme Court has struck down Roe v. Wade, which for nearly 50 years has protected the right to abortion. Read the full decision here.

What happens next?: The legality of abortion will be left to individual states. That likely will mean 52 percent of women of childbearing age would face new abortion limits. Thirteen states with “trigger bans” will ban abortion within 30 days. Several other states where recent antiabortion legislation has been blocked by the courts are expected to act next.

State legislation: As Republican-led states move to restrict abortion, The Post is tracking legislation across the country on 15-week bans, Texas-style bans, trigger laws and abortion pill bans, as well as Democratic-dominated states that are moving to protect abortion rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade.

How our readers feel: In the hours that followed the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Washington Post readers responded in droves to a callout asking how they felt — and why.

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